BlackBerry is back! Availability, specs and prices of BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 unveiled

BlackBerry 10 launch event held simultaneously in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Johannesburg, Jakarta and New Delhi

At a launch event held simultaneously in Dubai, New York, Toronto, London, Paris, and Johannesburg on January 30, Canada-based Research in Motion (RIM) launched BlackBerry 10, the re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented BlackBerry platform.

In what analysts are seeing as big news for the mobile industry, President and CEO Thorsten Heins also announced that the company had rebranded itself to BlackBerry while launching two new smartphones, the BlackBerry Z10 (all-touch) and BlackBerry Q10 (touch with physical keyboard) smartphones on the new platform.
“Today sees a re-invented BlackBerry launching an entirely new mobile experience,” said Heins. “We are thrilled to be introducing BlackBerry 10 on the new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones, to deliver a faster, smarter experience that continuously adapts to your needs. Every feature, every gesture, and every detail in BlackBerry 10 is designed to keep you moving.”

"Isn't it beautiful?" asked CEO Heins at the launch webcast.

The handset will be available in Dubai from February 10 onward at a suggested retail price of Dh2,599, making it less expensive than rival Apple's iPhone 5 but a tad more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S3, the spearhead smartphone from the global smartphones market leader.

"The UAE is one of our most important markets," Heins said during his opening remarks. Dubai was one of handful of cities where the launch event was organised, including New York, Toronto, London and Paris, among others.

The Z10, which features an all-touch keyboard, is rolling out over the next several weeks. It hits the United Kingdom tomorrow (January 31), Canada on February 5, the UAE on February 10. The US won't see the Z10 until sometime in March.

The device will be available in Canada for C$149.90 (Dh550) on a 3-year contract, but pricing for other countries was yet to be announced.

Pricing and Availability
Worldwide, BlackBerry claims it has several key markets that revealed pricing and availability last night, including the UAE, UK and Canada.
In the UK, the BlackBerry Z10 will be available beginning January 31, on pay monthly contracts and pre-pay plans from EE, O2, Vodafone, Phones 4u, BT, 3UK and the Carphone Warehouse. BlackBerry Z10 smartphones will be available fully subsidised on competitive monthly pay contracts. Price points will vary according to carriers and retail partners.
In Canada, the BlackBerry Z10 will be available on February 5 onward. Pricing will vary by carrier partner, but it will retail for around $149.99 (Dh550) on a 3-year contract.
In the UAE, the BlackBerry Z10 will be available on February 10 onward. Pricing will vary by carrier partner, but unsubsidized it will retail for AED 2,599.
In the US market, the BlackBerry Z10 is expected to be available with most carriers in March. US carriers have begun announcing pre-registration and price plans.
BlackBerry expects the first global carriers to launch the BlackBerry Q10 in April. “We will announce new pricing and availability information as carriers roll-out around the world,” it noted.

"It's been almost one year since I took over the reins of RIM as CEO," said Heins in his opening keynote. "This is so exciting," he added.

BlackBerry CEO also announced that Alicia Keys is the company's new global creative director, acknowledging the support of BlackBerry loyalists and the staff.

Heins said this is the one of biggest launches in the industry. "This is BlackBerry 10, ladies and gentlemen. And it's so big that RIM is no longer RIM - it's been renamed to BlackBerry. We're now BlackBerry everywhere," said Heins.

He said BlackBerry will be connecting and integrating all devices from computers to phones to systems.

One of the key features to the new BlackBerry 10 platform is the range of applications that are available for the two debut devices, the Z10 and the Q10, a touch-screen and hardware keyboard enabled device, respectively.

The new platform bpasts more than 1,000 top applications that are committed to BB10 - including the most popular apps like Skype, Kindle, Angry Birds etc.

The company had organised two portahons, which helped port 15,000 and 19,000 apps to the new platform at each event.

"We have put together the largest catalog of apps for a first-generation mobile platform," according to BlackBerry developer relations chief Alec Saunders.

It was announced that the BlackBerry 10 platform is launching today with 70,000 applications, including Skype, SAP and the usual social apps from Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Highlights of BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry 10 is a robust and reliable platform that is smooth and responsive. It has a modern design and a gesture-based interface that is highly discoverable. It is designed to support, learn, and adapt to the way you work and share with features like:
The BlackBerry Hub (a single place to manage all conversations, BBM messages, social media updates or notifications), and the ability to “peek” into the BlackBerry Hub from anywhere, so you’re always only one swipe away from what matters to you.
The BlackBerry Flow (enabling features and apps to flow seamlessly together, helping you complete the task at hand effortlessly and efficiently). For example, tap on an attendee listed for a meeting to see their latest tweet or LinkedIn profile, or tap a picture thumbnail to edit the image and then instantly share it with your contacts.
A keyboard that understands and adapts to the user, learns the words’ usage, and assists faster and more accurate typing.
BBM (allows sharing things in an instant). BBM in BlackBerry 10 introduces the ability to share your screen with another BlackBerry 10 contact.
BlackBerry Balance technology, which separates and secures work applications and data from personal content on BlackBerry devices.
Time Shift, an astonishing camera feature that lets users capture a group shot where everyone is smiling with their eyes wide open.
Story Maker, which lets the user bring a collection of photos and videos together, along with music and effects, to produce an HD movie that can be instantly shared.  
The new BlackBerry 10 browser, which BlackBerry claims sets the industry benchmark for HTML5 support on smartphones. Scrolling or zooming is fluid and responsive, it says. The browser includes advanced features, supports multiple tabs, lets you browse sites privately, includes a reader mode, and integrates with the platform for easily sharing content.
BlackBerry Remember, which combines memos, tasks and much more into a single experience.
It helps organize and manage information you have on your smartphone around projects or ideas, letting you collect content such as websites, emails, photos, documents, and other files, and then like a To-Do list, lets you create tasks, assign due dates, and track your progress. If your BlackBerry 10 smartphone is set up with a work account, your Microsoft® Outlook® Tasks will automatically be wirelessly synced with BlackBerry Remember. If you have configured an Evernote account with your smartphone, BlackBerry Remember will sync Evernote workbooks as well.  
BlackBerry Safeguard technology that helps protect what is important, and the business the user works for. 
Built-in support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync so BlackBerry Z10 or BlackBerry Q10 smartphone can be simply connected and managed as other ActiveSync devices in a company, or enabled with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 to gain secure access to work email, “behind the firewall” applications and data, and benefit from other security and enterprise mobility management features.
The BlackBerry World storefront, which now includes 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps. In addition, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare apps for BlackBerry 10 are preinstalled, and BlackBerry 10 customers will have access to leading applications from across the globe. Leading application providers including Disney, Cisco, Foursquare, Skype and Rovio have committed to the platform.
“At Foursquare, we are extremely excited to launch our new BlackBerry 10 application and to continue developing on the platform,” said Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder and CEO of Foursquare. “Our team built the app just for BlackBerry 10, and the result is an amazing Foursquare Explore experience to help people around the world make the most of where they are.”
 “We're delighted to bring Angry Birds Star Wars to BlackBerry fans around the world,” said Petri Järvilehto, EVP of Games, at Rovio. “It's a great platform that gives a fantastic gaming experience, so fans can experience the struggle of Rebel Birds vs. Imperial Pigs to the fullest!”
“Bringing Where’s My Water? and Where's My Perry? to BlackBerry 10 smartphones will introduce some of Disney's most popular mobile games to new audiences,” said Tim O'Brien, VP of Business Development, Disney Games. “The new BlackBerry 10 platform is an exciting opportunity to expand Disney's network of mobile players.”
“We’re proud to extend Cisco’s WebEx technology to the BlackBerry 10 platform letting customers of any size join, start, view content, and stay connected to WebEx meetings right from their BlackBerry 10 smartphone,” said Raj Gossain, Vice-President of Product Management, Cloud Collaboration Applications Technology Group at Cisco.
“Our customers access Cisco collaboration capabilities, such as instant messaging, IP voice calling and conferencing on BlackBerry smartphones to stay connected anywhere, anytime, and with anyone. RIM and Cisco have worked together to develop an application that is user friendly and meets the needs of our global customers,” he added.
“We are excited about our plans to bring Skype to smartphones running the brand new BlackBerry 10 platform,” said Bob Rosin, VP & GM of Business Development for Microsoft's Skype division.
“We are working closely with BlackBerry to ensure Skype runs great on BlackBerry 10 devices. This will give BlackBerry 10 users a great Skype experience, including free voice and video calling, sending instant messages and text messages, sharing photos, videos and files, and calling to landlines and mobiles at Skype’s low rates,” added Rosin.

The launch took place simultaneously in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Johannesburg, Jakarta and Delhi.

Heins admitted that two years ago, RIM made the decision to go it alone and not switch to another platform (Android?).

"We see people running from one device to other and we want to solve this problem," says Heins, adding that new device offers "great security and privacy."

As reported by Emirates 24|7, in preparation for the launch of its BlackBerry 10 devices on January 30, RIM has changed the name of its official software portal for BlackBerry devices, and also cut the prices of applications available through it.

“In preparation for launch of BlackBerry 10, we will be starting the first wave of our planned pricing update in BlackBerry World. This first wave will update the British Pound (GPB) and Euro (EUR) currencies. Shortly after we will be rolling out updates to other currencies and will be informing you in advance of those changes,” RIM announced in a blog post.

More importantly, however, the pricing of its massively leaked BlackBerry Z10 smartphone has also been made available through, yes, more leaks.

According to a UK retailer’s database, the Z10 with an internal storage of 32GB will cost £480 (Dh2,774) without a SIM. That means that the new device will be cheaper than the iPhone 5 (Dh2,999) but more expensive than the 32GB Samsung Galaxy S3 (Dh2,299).

On its blog post, the company acknowledged that the pricing of applications in the BlackBerry World had been lowered, at least in some markets around the world.

“Currently, the lowest tier in the UK is £1.00. Once the price tier changes are implemented, the lowest tier will be £0.75. For Euros the tier will vary by country. For example, in France the current lowest tier is €0.99. With the pricing tier changes, the new lowest tier will be €0.89,” the post noted.

RIM’s Z10 smartphone will be one of the two devices to be unveiled today. The Z10 is an all-touch handset that RIM is rumoured to have loaded with some of the best hardware ever included inside a BlackBerry handset (LTE-support, dual-core processors, lots of RAM, and plenty of storage).

Will the new BlackBerry 10 devices will live up to the hype? Or will its first real innovation in 10 years be its last? You tell us in comments below.

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